The Making of a Museum
In 1983 Waveney Flying Group who operated from Seething Airfield were approached by members of the 448th Bomb Group Association regarding the possibility of placing a memorial stone on the airfield and also contacted the village of Seething asking for permission to place another memorial stone in the village churchyard. So in June 1984 a group of 448th veterans and their families came over for the dedications.
It was during this visit, and seeing the derelict Control Tower, a remark was made that it would be nice to see the building as it was during the war.
Later Minnie Whitehead heard from Leroy Engdahl in America that they would help with the costs if local labour could be found. Ralph Whitehead, Mike Page, Judy Speed of WFG started the Control Tower restoration with help from a couple of other members and later Ron Everson and Jim Turner from the village joined the team and work started. Internal walls, and the original windows, the rails from the balcony and roof were missing as were the outside stairs. There were no doors or frames remaining and the roof leaked!
The first major job was to remove all of the old bitumen from the roof and Ralph set to repairing some of damaged edging so work could start on the new roof so that at least it would be weather-proof. The cost of new roof was £1,700.
The original windows were made by Crittals and, as the cost of new ones was very high, one of the company reps. suggested using second hand ones from the demolished buildings of other airfields and this was agreed.
Min Whitehead, as the Secretary, was kept busy liaising with Leroy Engdahl in America but sadly she was taken ill and died in August 1985 before the task was completed. Although devastated by his loss, Ralph came back after a short break and resolved to carry out Min’s wishes culminating in an honour roll which now hangs on the wall upstairs.
The small band of workers spent most weekends and holidays working on the building. Besides replacing the walls, doors and windows they had to provide toilets and a kitchen. This required 200 yards of water pipe having to be laid carried out with the help of WFG Chairman Bob Marjoram and his digger.
As there was no electricity Mike Page brought a generator to power the cement mixer and the odd light to work with, but sadly someone stole it.
Robin Peck a member of the WFG kindly supplied and installed light fittings and 13 amp sockets where needed.
They later acquired a large diesel generator, it was so heavy that even with it on a sled it took all hands to move it into the large room downstairs where the exhaust was piped outside. The downside was the noise and it seemed to shake the whole building but it meant that, with lights throughout the Tower, work could carry on and at least it would not be so easy to steal!
Mike worked on the layout of the kitchen, Ralph and Ron built a septic tank to take the waste water with the help once more of Bob and his digger.
In order to meet a planned 448th Bomb Group visit in May 1987 there was a massive final push to complete painting, install shelves, dispay cabinets & boards. In addition to the planning needed to make this a really special day both on the Airfield and in the village of Seething.
So the first of many improvements to this Historic old building was completed.